February 4, 2013
Howard Snaps Skid With Win Over South Carolina State
Washington, DC--Prince Okoroh scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the second half, and Mike Phillips added 10 of his 16 after intermission to help Howard University defeat South Carolina State, 57-45 in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference men's game at Burr Gymnasium.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak by the Bison (5-18, 2-7 in the MEAC) while the Bulldogs (4-17, 0-8 in the MEAC) dropped their 14th straight game.
The shorthanded Bison, who are without their starting backcourt of Simuel Frazier and Calvin Thompson for indefinite periods due to injuries, struggled early as South Carolina State worked its way to an 11-point lead late in the first half.
But the Bison began to cut into the lead as Okoroh hit some medium range jumpers and Anton Dickerson knocked down a couple of three pointers, enabling Howard was able to get within 29-24 at intermission.
"I told the guys before the game that I heard something that (John) Harbaugh said after the Super Bowl," related Howard head coach Kevin Nickelberry. "He said 'it may not be perfect and it may not be pretty, but it is us and we have to embrace it.' I told them to not worry about the baskets, the baskets will come. From there, we made some adjustments at halftime and it showed us as coaches that they can listen."
In the second half, South Carolina State maintained a five- to seven-point bulge and was able to keep the Bison at bay until Brandon Ford capped off a 9-2 run over a six-minute stretch with a runner in the lane that tied the score at 39 with 7:01 on the clock.
From there, the Howard defense shut down the visitors, opening the door for Okoroh and Phillips to take over. The duo combined to score for 12 of their team's 14 points while holding the Bulldogs to no field goals and three free throws during a six-minute stretch.
"We didn't shoot the ball well as a team (32 percent)," said Nickelberry. "Prince and Mike stepped up big on offense. But it helped that the guys around them stepped up as well. I have been saying all week that it takes guys to step up and that what Prince and Mike did tonight."
When the tandem was not knocking down medium-range shots, they drew fouls and converted them into free throws. By the time the Bulldogs scored their first field goal at that point, the Bison built its biggest lead at 50-40 with less than two minutes remaining in the contest.
Okoroh recorded the first double-double of his career with the 17 points and 10 rebounds while also blocking a career-high three shots. Phillips just missed a double-double with 16 points, nine rebounds and career-best three steals. Ford scored all of his six points in the second half and Dickerson came off the bench to score eight points. Theodore Boyomo had a strong defensive game with six points and five rebounds and Tre Lee ran the offense and recorded a career-high seven assists.
The Bulldogs were led by Darryl Palmer, who scored nine of his team-high 11 points in the first half and Matthew Hezekiah and Shaquiell Mitchell who each score eight points. SC State shot 18 percent (5 of 27) in the second half, including all seven of its three-point attempts.